Dre to Pay $1.5M for "High"

Jury says 1999 track takes too much from Fatback hit

May 8, 2003 12:00 AM ET

A federal jury in Los Angeles recommended Tuesday that rapper and producer Dr. Dre pay a British music publishing company $1.5 million for appropriating parts of the 1980 Fatback hit "Backstrokin'" for "Let's Get High," from Dre's album 2001. The songs are built on similar six-note funk bass lines, Dre's slowed to a tempo more suited to the follow-up to his gangsta rap masterpiece The Chronic.

"Backstrokin'," from the 1980 album Hotbox, was Fatback's highest-climbing single. Written by bassist Johnny Flippin and drummer Bill Curtis, it reached Number Three on the R&B chart in 1980. Fatback, a funk collective originally known as the Fatback Band, also made one of the first rap singles ever with their 1979 hit "King Tim III (Personality Jock)."

Minder Music, the London-based company that controls the rights to "Backstrokin'," was intially seeking $3.5 million in damages. Lawyers for Dr. Dre maintain the similarities between the two tracks -- Dre wrote "High" with Eminem and others -- are unintentional, and say they plan to appeal the decision if the judge approves the jury's recommendation.

Dr. Dre's 2001 has sold more than six million copies in the U.S.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

More Song Stories entries »